Thursday, September 25, 2003
( 1:47 PM )
Take Back the Power
Literally. Here in Portland we will have a choice this coming election on whether to publicly own our utility company or let the corporations keep control of it and our money. The full court press is on. Yesterday we received a letter in an 8x10 envelope with a glossy brochure from Pacific Power:
"On November 4, you will be asked to decide if you want
to continue being served by Pacific Power, or create
a new layer of government to run your electric utility..."
This is the new argument being used by the utility corporation - and we saw it again on tv last night in ads featuring a nice elderly lady saying that she didn't want a "new layer of government to operate her electricity." The ads were sponsored by some sort of "responsible citizenship group."
Portlanders need to educate themselves in the next month about this issue. This part of the reason our city and our state are struggling. It's why California ended up in the deep debt it's in. PGE and Pacific Power are all part of the old Enron system of running things. If you need a powerful argument for publicly owned utilities, how about what happened to the grid in the Northeast a few weeks ago?
The issue is so hot, we even got a letter from Greg Palast in our paper to all our citizens:
The parent company of Portland General Electric
corrupted the power markets, flimflammed
regulators, overcharged customers, wiped out
employee pensions and collapsed into
bankruptcy. And now, on the assumption there's
a sucker born every minute, they want you to
still love them.
PGE and Pacific Power want us to believe that our bills will go UP without them in charge (and pray tell how much of my last bill did you use to print this useless crap and pay for these television commercials?).
Want to know what happens when the public
takes over a private system? First, your bills go
down. Every time. I'm writing this on Long Island,
where the public recently booted out a private
power company bigger than PGE. The outcome?
Every Long Island customer got a $100 refund
check plus a 12 percent cut in rates and a big
boost in reliability.
That's right: People-owned systems rarely black
out. Remember the California power crisis? The
city-owned Los Angeles system kept the lights
on -- and the prices way down. And the Great
Northeast blackout this year? Public systems,
from Niagara to Greenport, stayed lit. Why?
Unlike privateers, the public systems don't profit
from cutting service.
Don't fall for the smooth sell from PGE and Pacific Power, my fellow Oregonians. Now is not the time to cave to corporations again. We now have the chance to get rid of the system that has crippled the west coast power situation. We need to make a statement here. On Nov. 7, vote to take back the ownership of your own power.